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Taking Submissions: Sci Phi Journal January 2024 Call
Deadline: February 4th, 2024
Payment: 3 (Euro) cents per word for original fiction and 1 (Euro) cent per word for translations of fiction into English.
Theme: Hard SF that zooms out of the personal and lifts off into the structural, the systemic, the epic.
There are plenty of amazing print and online journals out there for ‘character-driven’ fiction, and we encourage you to read them.
Sci Phi Journal (SPJ) is not one of them, though.
Hence, we are not too keen on stories predominantly about the sentiments and subjective experiences of fictional people. We want hard SF that zooms out of the personal and lifts off into the structural, the systemic, the epic. We yearn for carefully crafted philosophical speculation that puzzles over the questions of the future and alternate pasts. And we have a soft spot for stories created as ‘artifacts’ (fictional, ‘in-universe’ non-fiction).
So here are SPJ‘s quests:
– Campbellian hard SF. Reaching back to the roots of classic sci-fi, these rigorous tales take themselves seriously and push the boundaries of our scientific imagination, scaling from the nano to the meta. The cast, if any, is functional and disposable. It’s the sociological, technological and indeed cosmic developments that sweep the reader up in an expanding sense of wonder. (For a contemporary long-form example that received mainstream attention, see the latter two books of Cixin Liu’s Three-Body Problem trilogy.)
– Fictional non-fiction. The purest, most intimate form of world-building. A transcript of the last UN Security Council meeting before an extinction-level event. The dental bills of a cybernetic vampire. Interviews with eyewitnesses of a battle between Martians and archangels. (Epistolary fiction falls within this category, though we encourage you to interpret it more broadly, across the full spectrum of artifact fiction.) Think ‘World War Z’, not ‘Walking Dead’.
– Speculative philosophy. Extrapolating abstract ideas to examine the implications if they were to manifest. (See for instance The End of History, the Beginning of Hers in Vol. V. Issue 1. for a theological example of just what we mean.)
(The first author to have a story published in each of the three categories gets to choose any one member of the extended editorial team and marry them. You’ve been warned.)
Length and formatting
Brevity tends to correlate positively with idea-density. Thus we are looking for stories no longer than 2000 words (but preferably shorter). Due to the volume of submissions, we cannot promise to read stories that are over the word limit.
.doc, .docx, .odt, .rtf, .txt, anything is fine as long as it’s editable. No PDFs, TIFFs or coffee mug-stained scans, please. Preferably size 12, in easy-to-read font.
We have transitioned to a new submissions management system called “Duosuma”. We care about your stories and too many have gotten lost or misfiled in cyberspace over the years, so we kindly ask you to no longer submit them by email, but use our secure online form instead. Here’s the link: https://duotrope.com/duosuma/submit/sci-phi-journal-v1BL8
For the sake of our internal workflow, please only submit one story during a given call for subs. Simultaneous submissions are okay, but if you place your story elsewhere in the meantime, we’d be grateful if you let us know.
Please also include a short bio to accompany your work (quirky or serious are both fine). We also encourage you to add a Philosophy Note (under “cover letter”): a short paragraph on the inspiration for the tale and which philosophical questions it addresses, as well as relevant further reading you might wish to recommend.
If the story you submit to SPJ is short-listed by our editorial team (potentially with minor corrections or amendments suggested), and you are still happy to work with us, we will offer to acquire its first publishing rights. We only take previously unpublished works of fiction, for obvious copyright reasons. (No reprints.) Please refrain from sending us AI-generated content, as (a) we prefer to devote our crew’s time to engaging with the fruits of actual human creativity, and (b) we don’t feel that the present murky situation adequately addresses the rights and legitimate concerns of original authors whose work is fed into machine-learning algorithms.
In addition to original fiction, we would like to unearth buried and forgotten treasures written in languages other than English. We are therefore open to receiving translations of short stories that fit within the sub-domains outlined above, provided they haven’t previously been translated into English, or if you can give us a very good reason why they should be re-translated.
Where applicable, it is the responsibility of translators to secure permission from the author or copyright-holder. By submitting a translation to us, you imply that you have done so.
We would love to be able to read Sanskrit, Kalaallisut and Bidayuh. Unfortunately, we haven’t gotten around to learning them yet. For that reason, translators are solely responsible for the accuracy of their work. We can only assess the literary qualities of the final English text, which will be judged by the same criteria that apply to original fiction.
For accepted works, at present we are able to offer the standard semi-pro rate of 3 (Euro) cents per word for original fiction and 1 (Euro) cent per word for translations of fiction into English. At this point, we regret that we are unable to provide payment for non-fiction.
Payment is made through PayPal. For this to work, authors need a (free) PayPal account.
Sci Phi Journal is a volunteer-run, semi-pro webzine dedicated to the intersection of Philosophy and Science Fiction. Winner of the 2022 European Science Fiction Award for Best Magazine, our content has been shortlisted for Hugo, Locus and Utopia awards, among others.
We publish concept-heavy, idea-driven (as opposed to ‘character-driven’) short stories and essays, across a wide variety of sub-genres from alternate history to hard sci-fi, from artefact fiction (or fictional non-fiction) to theological fantasy. We celebrate SF as speculative fiction in the broadest sense and are always pleased to see daring approaches, as long as they do not compromise or obfuscate the literary quality of the author’s prose.
Based in Brussels, Belgium, Sci Phi Journal is open to readers and writers of all persuasions, and publishes both established and emerging authors.
If you consider submitting your work to us (we sure hope you do!), please kindly familiarise yourself with our guidelines (incl. information on word limit, formatting, payment to authors, etc.) and, optionally, a list of things we see too often (the “Index of Heresies“). Should you feel so inclined, you are also welcome to peruse a Note on our Philosophy.
General Call for Submissions
you are welcome to submit ONE work of fiction of maximum 2000 words under our General Submission stream (free choice of topic within the broad spectrum of philosophical science fiction & fantasy), from 2nd January to 4th February 2024.
Before submitting your work, please kindly familiarise yourself with our guidelines (incl. information on word limit, formatting, payment to authors, etc.) and, if your time allows, a list of things we see too often (the “Index of Heresies“).
We will do our utmost to reply to all submissions by the first half of March 2024, but please bear with us, as each piece will be read by at least two people.
In the meantime, take care and have a cosy winter!
Sci Phi Journal editors & crew
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Stuart Conover is a father, husband, published author, blogger, geek, entrepreneur, horror fanatic, and runs a few websites including Horror Tree!